Strategies to Help Control Sibling Rivalry
At certain points in their children’s upbringing, parents have to mediate family conflicts, often wondering about the best way to keep sibling rivalry under control. They need to ensure that these tensions don’t escalate into verbal or physical acts of violence.
While it’s not always the case, as a rule, siblings will tend to fight and argue with each other. This occurs during certain age ranges, when they’re very young and when they’re teenagers. However, sibling rivalry can continue even when they’re older.
The causes of sibling rivalry
Siblings will start having conflicts from the moment the second child is born. The first-born will often feel a sense of resentment toward their younger brother or sister. They may even feel abandoned by their parents.
As they grow up, the conflicts will stem from a variety of reasons, usually depending on the personalities of each sibling as well as their interests.
But the nature of these conflicts also depends on the upbringing and education the children receive. Parents need to try to develop and cultivate the right kind of sibling relationships.
Fights, arguments, tantrums and jealousy can owe to many causes. These include the need to be the center of attention, the desire for material objects, and the need to be right in every situation.
For whatever reason, even though siblings play together, share and defend each other from others, they also compete and mark territory.
For parents, it can be complicated and exhausting to mediate their children’s battles and grudges, all while trying to figure out how to keep the rivalry under control.
How to control sibling rivalry
There are no magic solutions. However, there are some pieces of advice parents can heed in their mission to foster peace among their children.
- Always make them feel equally special. As crazy as it might seem, there are many everyday situations in which children feel like they’re being treated differently.
- Teach them from an early age to share absolutely everything, but also teach them to ask to borrow things that aren’t theirs.
- Teach them to negotiate and come to agreements. Children need to learn to make decisions regarding things like taking turns. Regardless of the specifics of the agreements they reach, the important thing is that they’ll learn to have open dialogues.
- From a young age, they need to internalize that a sibling, like any other person, is not someone to be shouted at, hit, or pushed. On the contrary, they need to learn to ask permission, give thanks, and say they’re sorry.
- Emphasize proper behavior and motivate them to treat their siblings well. Focus on the importance that good sibling relationships have in life in terms of emotional support, trust, loyalty and security.
- Make sure their entertainment options and recreational activities are free of violence, be it physical or verbal. No matter what they want to consume, it needs to go through a parental filter. This way, you can vet it for appropriateness in terms of age range and content.
- Avoid making comparisons between them. They need to feel that even though they make mistakes, they’re unique and special people no matter what.
- Always listen to them. This is true even if you know what they’re going to tell you or if you can predict their justifications regarding a conflict. You still need to listen to their reasons and, through an open dialogue, help them to see others’ perspectives in the event that they’re in the wrong.
We need to raise our children by setting examples. Siblings will be less likely to embrace conflict if they grow up in an environment of peaceful coexistence and constant dialogue. These lessons will be further reinforced if there are no contradictions between what you preach and what actually happens in their environment.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Peleato, C. (n.d.) La relación entre hermanos múltiples: rivalidad y competencia. AMAPAMU org. http://www.amapamu.org/actividades/jornadas/VIIITalleres/Resumen-%20rivalidad%20en%20multiples.pdf
- Nina Howe, PhD, Holly Recchia, PhD. (2014). Las relaciones entre los hermanos y su impacto en el desarrollo de los niños. Department of Education and Centre for Research in Human Development, Concordia University, CanadáDiciembre 2014, Ed. rev.